Pokémon TCG Meta-Snapshot March 2018: Road to Philippines SPE & Perth Regionals

Here at The Rainbow Wing, we’re looking forward to March’s two big tournaments – the Philippines Special Event (17-18 March 2018) and Perth Regionals (24-25 March 2018).

While decks like Greninja, Sylveon GX and Decidueye GX are fading away, the new Ultra Prism set brought a number of new decks into the meta – though popular archetypes like Buzzwole GX and Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX continue to reign supreme.

With more chances to win valuable points on the way to qualifying for worlds, here’s this month’s meta-snapshot of the most popular decks that you might be facing across the table.


Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

1st Place La Paz SPE 2018 - Ricardo Pantoja.png
1st Place – La Paz SPE 2018 – Ricardo Pantoja

Possibly the most powerful deck in the current meta. The deck focuses around the Buzzwole GX as the main attacker, it’s single Energy 30 damage first Attack also able to hit 30 damage to a bench Pokémon of your choosing – slow and steady, and helps to make up the numbers (also consider 1 Strong Energy and 1 Regirock for 60 damage). Plus, its Knuckle Impact Attack, with one or two Strong Energy (or even a Choice Band) is able to one-hit KO most basic GX Pokémon.

To pull out support Pokémon lurking on the Bench, Lycanroc GX is added able to drag an opponent’s Benched Pokémon into the Active Pokémon spot with the ability Bloodthirsty Eyes, and doubles as a threat with Dangerous Rogue GX. The next popular support is Sudowoodo, which can copy your opponent’s last used attack – effective against Pokémon like Dusk Mane Necrozma GX, Tapu Bulu GX and the inevitable mirror.

The deck also plays 3 Brooklet Hill instead of Brigette to set up your field at the beginning of the game, which can also search for Remoraid


Buzzwole GX/Garbodor

2nd Place Collinsville, IL Regional 2018 - Natalie Shampay.png
2nd Place – Collinsville, IL Regionals 2018 – Natalie Shampay

Take the above deck, remove the ancillary cards and replace them with Garbodor (Breakpoint) to lock your opponent’s Abilities.

The deck includes Carbink BREAK to stream Energy cards from the Discard Pile back to your Fighting Pokémon, and the odd Zygarde-EX helps tremendously in a meta where many Mew-EX, Mew (Fates Collide) and Mewtwo (Evolutions) have been added into decks to counter the increasing number of Buzzwole-GX.

Once you overextend and end up with a single Prize card or two remaining, a single N will mean you’re left on top deck mode, without a Tapu Lele GX, Octillery or Oranguru to save you – while the opponent’s Golisopod GX slowly takes Prize cards for the win.


Golisopod GX/Zoroark GX


1st Place Collinsville, IL Regional 2018 - Ian Robb.png
1st Place – Collinsville, IL Regionals 2018 – Ian Robb

Made popular by the double Internationals Champion Tord Reklev, this deck combines the one-Energy attacker Golisopod GX with the amazing draw engine of Zoroark GX to search for just about any card in your deck.


Like most current decks, there’s a Brigette to help set up on your first turn , but this deck plays three copies for maximum efficiency. Extra copies later in the game can be discarded with Zoroark GX’s Trade Ability.

Being a two-hit Pokémon deck, it uses Acerola to return a damaged Golisopod GX to hand. You can then promote a new Golisopod GX to the Active Pokémon spot and hit the First Impression for 120 damage (150 damage with a Choice Band attached). Or you can promote a Tapu Koko (Promo) or a Pokémon with Float Stone first, evolve a benched Wimpod with the new Golisopod GX in your hand you rescued with Acerola, and hit the First Impression.

This combination is made even more stable with Puzzle of Time, to recover cards you need and keep the cycle going for as long as possible. Post Ultra Prism, some players have added Lurantis (Promo), which adds 20 damage to Fire and Grass type Pokémon.

Some decks might include Mew EX or Mewtwo (Evolutions) to counter the popular Buzzwole GX threat.


Lycanroc GX/Zoroark GX

4th Place Collinsville, IL Regional 2018 - Pearce Blend.png
4th Place – Collinsville, IL Regionals 2018 – Pearce Blend

A deck that broke into the top tier by record Regional Champion Michael Pramawat, this deck makes use of Lycanroc GX to pick apart your opponent’s setup or take KOs on low HP Pokémon like Tapu Lele GX. Using the ability Bloodthirsty Eyes, Lycanroc GX (Guardians Rising) allows you to choose an opponent’s Pokémon to pull into the Active Pokémon spot. It’s Dangerous Rogue GX attack (50x number of Pokémon on the opponent’s bench) is also devastating in the current meta where it is common to fill up your bench with Pokémon.

Zoroark GX doubles not only as the primary draw support, but also as a main attacker. In Michael’s build, the addition of a Professor Kukui means Zoroark GX is able to one-hit KO an opponent’s Tapu Lele GX for an easy two Prizes.

The rise of Tapu Bulu GX as a formidable deck has seen Lycanroc GX / Zoroark GX add Reverse Valley/Devoured Field for Zoroark to hit the 180 damage (with Professor Kukui) on Tapu Bulu GX. This is possible with three or four Zoroark GX in play, using the Trade Ability every turn to cycle through your deck.

Like the above, there are decks that include Mew EX or Mewtwo (Evolutions) to counter the popular Buzzwole GX threat.


Zoroark GX/Gardevoir GX

1st Place Sydney International 2018 - Tord Reklev.png
1st Place – Sydney Internationals 2018 – Tord Reklev

What a difference Sydney makes. Just when Gardevoir GX was touted to be leaving the meta, in comes Tord Reklev to prove us all wrong – leading a European congregation combining the mighty Fairy Pokémon with Zoroark GX, the draw engine of choice for the 3-time Internationals champion.

There’s a little bit of everything from both the popular Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX and Gardevoir GX decks in here. The Supporter Mallow to draw exact cards you need, one Max Potion to get your Pokémon back in the game and Parallel City, making a recent comeback in most decks to restrict your opponent to 3 bench sizes (or reducing Grass Pokémon damage by 20, think Golisopod GX and Tapu Bulu GX). A Mew EX is also included to counter the ever popular Buzzwole GX.


Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

1st Place SG League Cup 3 2017:18 - Aaron Minjoot.png
1st Place – Singapore League Cup 3 2017/18 – Aaron Minjoot

With many of the current top decks utilising Pokémon with 210HP or less, Tapu Bulu GX is able to reach that magic number with its Nature’s Judgement attack and a Choice Band attached. Unfortunately, the drawback of using the attack’s full power is to discard all of its attached Energy.

To compensate, its preferred partner is Vikavolt. This Pokémon has the ability to search your deck for one Grass Energy and one Lightning Energy, and attach it to any of your Pokémon (Tapu Bulu GX preferred, of course). A Mew (Fates Collide) is usually included to copy Tapu Bulu GX’s attacks as a one-prize attacker, in addition to becoming a problem for Buzzwole GX players.

While it looks like the deck has a straightforward strategy, the key to playing this deck well is deciding when to use Nature’s Judgement, its Tapu Wilderness GX attack, or the best time to charge a Vikavolt to take the decisive Prize card.


Glaceon GX

38th Place Collinsville, IL Regional 2018 - Andrew Wamboldt.png
38th Place – Collinsville, IL Regionals 2018 – Andrew Wamboldt

This was the most hyped card in Ultra Prism – hitting a Turn 1 lock if you win the coin toss, subsequently denying your opponent from a Turn 1 Tapu Lele GX, plus an attack reminiscent of Darkrai EX’s Night Spear (along with an Aqua Patch) was an extremely tantalising prospect. Unfortunately, this hasn’t bore fruit in the Standard format, but has been successful in Expanded, played with Barbacle (Fates Collide).

In Standard, there are two popular ways to create a deck around Glaceon GX. One involves the tried and tested Zoroark GX for a stable build that streams multiple Glaceon GX consistently. The other uses Lapras GX and Garbodor (Breakpoint) as support Pokémon, the latter card to completely lock your opponent’s Abilities.


Dusk Mane Necrozma GX

18th Place Malmo Regional 2018 - Seb Symonds.png
18th Place – Malmo Regionals 2018 – Seb Symonds

Ultra Prism also brought a long overdue boost for Metal Pokémon decks, along with the powerful Dusk Mane Necrozma GX. This big basic Pokémon is able to hit for a whopping 220 damage with Meteor Tempest, and a 3-energy cost 250 damage GX attack to stream one-hit KOs on your opponent’s Pokémon.

There are two ways to build a Dusk Mane Necrozma GX deck. The popular variant uses Magnezone (Ultra Prism) to charge as many Metal Energy cards as you like from your hand to your Pokémon, allowing constant Meteor Tempest attacks (provided you have the Energy in your hand). To help with that, decks include the Mount Coronet Stadium card to return two Metal Energy from your discard pile into your hand.

The other focuses on Solgaleo Prism Star and Registeel (Crimson Invasion) to charge Metal Energy cards from the Discard Pile, along with Max Elixir to quickly charge your Dusk Mane Necrozma GX. Some even include Mew (Fates Collide), which could also act as any of the Basic Pokémon in the deck, or Garbodor (Breakpoint) to lock your opponent’s abilities away.


Empoleon/Zoroark GX

Top 8 SG League Cup 3 - Colin Tang.png
3rd Place – Singapore League Cup 3 2017/18 – Colin Tang

Many were enthusiastic about the two non-GX, competitive Pokémon from Ultra Prism – the Cynthia/Garchomp/Lucario combination (which ultimately hasn’t seen much success yet), and a brand new Empoleon, which took 3rd spot in the 3rd Singapore League Cup of this season.

Diverging from most Empoleon builds that use Octillery as the draw engine, Team Rainbow Wing’s own Colin Tang went with Zoroark GX to consistently cycle through his deck each turn.

The addition of a Tapu Fini GX helped swing a number of Buzzwole GX matchups – using its Tapu Storm GX to shuffle a 2nd turn, fully powered Buzzwole GX back into the deck.


Volcanion EX

Leipzig 2018 7th Volcanion EX - Patrick Landis.png
7th Place – Leipzig Regionals 2018 – Patrick Landis

A classic deck introduced in Steam Siege that won last year’s Pokémon Oceania International Championship. The base of the deck utilises Volcanion (Steam Siege) with its Power Heater Attack able to charge two Pokémon on your bench with one Fire Energy each, combined with Volcanion EX that boosts your Active Pokémon’s attack by 30 damage by discarding a Fire Energy card. If you have more than one Volcanion EX, you can discard one Fire Energy card for each of them.

In Leipzig Regionals, Patrick Landis made Top 8 with a build using Turtanator GX as a secondary attacker. It has the Shell Trap attack that places eight Damage Counters on your opponent’s Pokémon that attacks it, and a Nitro Charge GX attack to recharge your Volcanions with up to five Fire Energy Cards from your Discard Pile.


Ho-oh GX/Turtonator GX

SGLC1 4th - Ho-Oh GX + Turtonator GX - Athavan Akilan.png
4th Place – Singapore League Cup 2 2017/18 – Athavan Akilan

Team Rainbow Wing’s official mascot is frightening to play against, especially if your opponent hits the Turn 1 Kiawe to charge four Fire Energy to Ho-oh GX from the deck. Phoenix Burn hits for 180, and along with one or two Volcanion EX, an extra 30 damage enables it to hit the key 210HP threshold.

Turtonator GX is another bucket of worms on the opposing field. Allow it to use Shell Trap, and your own Pokémon is hit with a whopping eight Damage Counters if you decide to damage Turtonator GX. If you’re running out of Energy Cards, Turtonator also recharges your Pokémon with Nitro Charge GX – but it will need to be well-timed, else you lose a turn without attacking for no significant advantage.

This deck harks back to pre-Sun and Moon’s Big Basics varieties – interchanging between Ho-Oh GX and Turtonator GX to slowly whittle away your opponent’s Pokémon HP and controlling the field.

Curious to know what were the most recent top decks in Malaysia and the region? Check out our comprehensive list of Malaysia tournament results for the 2017/2018 season here

See you at Philippines and Perth!


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